Did I go into this film dreaming of a pool of chardonnay and perfectly curated wine tasting events in rooftop restaurants? Not. But I also did not expect that 15 minutes into this film, I would be reminded of every other Netflix rom-com I have watched since last year, namely Falling Inn Love (2021) and The Royal treatment (2021), among others. Directed by Stuart Mcdonald, A Perfect Pairing falls into the formulaic Netflix rom-com pattern and becomes what every Netflix rom-com is – a watered bottle of wine repackaged for the front shelves.
Lola, played by Victoria Justice, is hustling towards a promotion at her old job for the position of Regional Sales Manager. Her boss admits that she is great at what she does. However, things take a turn overnight, as her friend at the office dupes her of a client she had in her bag and pitches them to the boss. Lola, frustrated and angry, decides to quit her job, start her own business, and fly down to Australia to win this afore-mentioned client over. Things don’t go the way she had planned.
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Soon, she finds herself working as a sheep rearer on the station supervised by a cute, hot guy (that’s what the character is framed as, not my opinion of him), Max, played by Adam Demos. Lola’s quest for the client’s positive nod and romantic interest come together throughout this 100-minutes-long drama. Is she successful at what she does again this time? Luckily for us, we don’t entirely have the usual happy ending you would expect.
Set in the vast expanses of the Australian landscape, the film certainly makes you crave a simple, rustic holiday in the wilderness. Considering the Australian-touristy stereotypes and the number of times Lola brings up the topic of loving the new land, I sometimes thought it was a promotional advertisement for Australian tourism. From a gorgeous sunset and baby kangaroo spotting to a hidden waterfall, the backdrop is just the right amount of cheese on the smorgasbord to complement this new-old wine of a film.
Justice plays a simple but confident young lady who is here to prove that resilience is all you need to learn everything on a sheep rearing farm within two weeks and make new friends. She also knows how to speed up a motorcycle, blow a whistle, and shoot darts. She also knows how to sketch, a talent that comes in handy with the target client! Having lost her friend in office to corporate malignance, she befriends an old sheep at the farm and calls her Baarbra. Now, this is an important and interesting comic development in the plot, so much that the screenplay spends a couple of minutes on Lola as she comes up with the name.
Unnecessary to explain, but if you are still in doubt, Baarbra is a pun on the name Barbara with the bleating of a sheep. Lola consistently calls her Baarbra throughout the movie, making her dialogues sound weirdly funny in a good way. Demos fades in performance beside Justice. Their chemistry appears a little jarring in the beginning, but towards the end, they strike the feel-good chord just right. I believe their performances in the film are an acquired taste but not outright unpalatable. Everyone else is happy-go-lucky in their own ways. What would we not give to have people and relations in our lives as less complicated as them!
I wish they discussed the wine a little more in the film. They do bring it up in conversations from time to time and show us some wine-drinking for a day job to tell us that they have done their fair share of research about wines and their blends, but considering how the entire plot is based around a wine deal, it doesn’t indulge us. Further, the conflict of interest in the romance subplot is taken out of the plot as quickly as Max removed the tree snake snuggling inside Lola’s sleeping blanket. It is not given enough time or thought, ironic for a film that is here to brand itself as a rom-com.
It is, like most other rom-coms, a heterosexual story of love that introduces token a queer character to stay relevant enough in today’s time. Besides, these rom-coms seem to have taken it upon themselves to prove that women, with the help of just enough support, malice, and judgement from people around them, can do anything they set their mind to. It is like one of those popular games on your Android phones where a woman protagonist goes about fixing a mansion, a garden, and a broken neighbourhood chap.
It is difficult to tell A Perfect Pairing apart from any other Netflix rom-com. The problem is, we still flock to it and willingly indulge ourselves as if it were a bottle of wine – you know what lies after the second glass, but you drink it anyway. It is a perfect Friday-night indulgence after you’ve had a long work week. It is now streaming on Netflix.
A Perfect Pairing Official Trailer (Netflix)
A Perfect Pairing (2022) Links: IMDb
Director: Stuart McDonald
Cast: Victoria Justice, Adam Demos, Luca Asta Sardelis, Samantha Cain